As a small business owner, it is a good idea for you to foster a healthy organizational culture. You may wish to improve on any particular business weaknesses before they develop into real problems: remember that corporate culture can affect the bottom line.

Organizational or corporate culture is the attitude of the people who make up the organization or business, reflected in their values, behaviours and ideas. A healthy culture will allow your workforce to feel connected to the big picture and share a common sense of purpose. If you create a positive environment, it is more likely that your employees will enjoy their work and be more productive. Factors that form the basis of an organizational culture include:

  • Beliefs, common stories and experiences that your employees pass along
  • Attaining goals and the standards involved
  • An adherence to symbols, values and rituals

Building a strong organizational culture is more than simply enjoying a pleasant atmosphere. The goal is to influence employees in a positive way so that they will always strive to improve performance and productivity. Employee satisfaction can also result in customer loyalty, enhancing profitability.

It makes sense to pay attention to any signs that your organizational culture is becoming unhealthy, so that you can rectify the situation:

  • Staff arrive and leave right on time, take longer lunches and breaks
  • Poor attendance at company events
  • On the rise absenteeism
  • Higher turnover and recruitment problems

You, however, have the power to create a strong organizational culture by:

  • Being aware of the top-down effect. As a role model to your employees, the examples you set (lifestyle, ethics, relationships with others, pursuit of quality) may define your business. After all, actions speak louder than words.
  • Sharing your vision - a clear vision will prevent your business from being reactive.
  • Treating all employees equally and with respect, including any family members on your staff.
  • Recruiting staff that fit into your organizational culture.
  • Making effective communication a priority. Enlist your employees' help in solving problems.
  • Not ignoring an unhealthy culture; it can damage your business.

No one type of organizational culture is best for all situations. Even within your business, you may find that various pockets reflect different organizational cultures.

For more on managing relationships with your staff, see our section Management Leadership.